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#172761 - 12/07/12 12:14 PM Is Layering the Answer?
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2752
Loc: California
I am going to question one of the "sacred cows" of backpacking equipment - the system of layering clothing.

I find layering awkward. I am hiking- all is fine. Get into camp and I have to take off my pants, which means taking off shoes, to get my long johns on. Same with top layers. If the weather turns very cold (high mountain passes with wind) and I want to put on long johns, again the struggle. My rainpants also require me to take off shoes to get on. I find myself changing clothing a lot.

Extra weight- One 16 oz down jacket gives me more warmth than 2-3 layers of 100-wt fleece at 8 oz each. With fleece I also need a wind shirt.

Properly sizing- If I layer with same size clothing, the top layer just squishes the lower layer. My shell is too big (too much breeze) with my hiking clothes alone; yet it is too tight when I put on all layers.

Do I really need clothing for ALL temperature ranges? I seem to have only two temperatures- hiking when I am warm enough not to need anything more than my hiking clothes and in camp where I need a lot (the minute I quit moving I get really cold).

OK, I am totally aware of the danger of depending on one layer for warmth -if that layer gets wet you are in big trouble.

What are your thoughts?


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#172764 - 12/07/12 01:03 PM Re: Is Layering the Answer? [Re: wandering_daisy]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
Suppose it depends on the big three: time of year, location, conditions. I typically take too much clothing in summer, never knowing what the overnight temperature might be--shirtsleeves or blowing sleet? Sometimes after pulling into camp I can't throw on every stitch fast enough and sometimes I reluctantly put on a windshirt and hat to ward off bugs, despite sweating like a sumo.

We've all had that sinking feeling of putting on the final stitch of clothing and still being cold. I hate that, so have decided for any trip longer than a weekend to pack one "luxury" warm item--a down vest or jacket--in case the weather takes a wacky turn or I run my "batteries" too low on the trail and need the warmth before dinner revives me. Most trips it's overkill and is just a (welcome) pillow, but I have it should I need it. (Down gear has become incredibly light and compact the last few years.) My main clothes are preferences I've formed over the years and ease my life in picking clothes for the trip, organizing and packing them, retrieving them in camp and packing the next morning.

Most of my in-camp needs are handled by a wicking short-sleeve tshirt, a mid-layer zip-t, an insulating layer, a hooded windshirt, a knit cap, wicking boxers, dry socks and long pants. Spring to fall, this is good for 80% of my needs. I might want shorts in mid season, rain gear for the wet or a headnet for bugs, and I have my backup "pillow" just because. If I get home having not used the rain gear, bug net and down top, that's a "win."

One concept I've tried and rejected is hybrid jackets with removable liners. Neat idea but as executed, heavy, bulky and not as good as carefully selected separates. The "wearable" sleeping bag still intrigues me, though.

I probably didn't address your point directly. Until fleece became lighter and more compressible I seldom carried it--at least not the thicker stuff. But for consistently soggy conditions, it's still one of the best options, along with wool and synthetic fill. Finally, I haven't a clue whether the new treated down garments changes the landscape yet again. Sounds too good to be true.

p.s. anytime I'm headed for 10+k feet I make sure to have a safety margin. Living in a hot place at sea level, I don't always respond well two miles up, and it can be especially hard to stay warm.


Edited by Rick_D (12/07/12 01:07 PM)
_________________________
--Rick

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#172765 - 12/07/12 01:38 PM Re: Is Layering the Answer? [Re: wandering_daisy]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Between the age of 10 and 12, my first 4 trips into the Sierra Nevada involved 1) bear chomping holes in packs to get at food; 2) being drenched and cold for 5 days (when the rain stopped); 3) snowy and cooool conditions; 4) and more bear fun. I have been hesitant to not have gear/clothes for the possibility of "atypical" Sierra Nevada weather ever since. Probably also explains my interest in bears.

I don't see anything better than the layering philosophy at this time, although what I wear hiking vs in camp are usually different. Even though I don't typically wear much while hiking, its still a layering system of sorts.

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#172768 - 12/07/12 02:40 PM Re: Is Layering the Answer? [Re: wandering_daisy]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
A fun and interesting challenge! I think the answer is "it depends" --- on personal preferences, walking and camping 'style' issues, and particular gear choices.

Quote:
"Get into camp and I have to take off my pants, which means taking off shoes, to get my long johns on. Same with top layers. If the weather turns very cold (high mountain passes with wind) and I want to put on long johns, again the struggle. My rainpants also require me to take off shoes to get on. I find myself changing clothing a lot."


What stands out to me in this is that you're talking about below-the-waist clothing items, which are always a bigger PITA because you often have to remove footwear and either have an incredible sense of balance, or a sufficiently warm, dry, clean place to sit, and just generally more time. My solution is to rarely use rain pants, unless on winter day hikes where I'm okay carrying a heavier pair of full side-zip units. I rarely walk in long johns; if I use them at all it's to augment my sleep system at night, and in that context I'm likely in my tent and on a sleeping pad when I'm putting them on. For below-the-waist rain gear I like rain skirts unless it's pretty windy, or rain chaps (easier to put on literally one leg at a time). Or so very often nothing. If your upper body core is warm, the lower body can typically manage.

Proper sizing: amen to that, you do indeed need to select your outer layer(s) to allow inner layer(s) to loft. Shell too big: either get one that's properly sized or just make sure to really batten down all of the hatches. Or at least, that approach works for me.

It could also be a matter of body chemistry --- what works for me in terms of puffy clothing and the like might not be sufficient for you in the same conditions, so I don't mean to say that my personal experience is universally applicable (!).

In the "style" area, I'll add that in colder weather I tend to spend a lot of time with my lower body in my sleeping bag, which mitigates things a lot. Therefore for me the more important insulation by far is what's on the upper body.

Quote:
"I seem to have only two temperatures- hiking when I am warm enough not to need anything more than my hiking clothes and in camp where I need a lot (the minute I quit moving I get really cold)."


This certainly captures a lot of truth, but for me at least it's a little over simplified. I find it very helpful to have some flexibility to adjust warmth when I'm walking, both via stuff I put on my hands and head, and what's on my core. Going downhill (less body heat generation) and the wind picks up and maybe I hike down into a colder zone --- big difference from hiking steeply uphill with no wind. Rain, snow, hail, wind, all impact this of course.

For in-camp use I mostly agree with you, though one can certainly imagine a situation where a beefy coat is overkill while other clothing options are either wet or otherwise inadequate.

Carrying too much clothing is a key reason why folks have heavy pack weights; getting the right balance that fits both you personally and the particular conditions that you're in takes a fine balance of experience, wisdom, and luck.
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#172771 - 12/07/12 03:14 PM Re: Is Layering the Answer? [Re: wandering_daisy]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1381
Loc: Southwest Ohio
I think that, if you find layers awkward, you shouldn't bother with them. You may have to carry a warmer outer layer as a result, but that will depend on your own internal thermostat. I don't know of any rule that says you must layer. I think part of the answer, too, may depend on conditions where you hike: if you don't need the longjohns during the day, and they're just one more thing to add when you're going to add a jacket and pants, too, then I'd skip them.

Having said that, I find that, here in Ohio/Indiana/Kentucky, between October and December, and between March and May, I like layers. Someone once said that you know you're in Ohio when you go from heat to air conditioning to heat in the same day. It may be cold enough at 8am that I want to start with lightweight longjohns, shorts, and a midweight top. By 10am, I may be down to shorts and a lightweight top - and maybe a T-shirt by 2pm. When I get to camp around 4, the longjohns and midweight top go back on (I pitch my tent, unpack, and get in the tent to change - not a huge nuisance, since I'll need somewhere to sit while I blow up my pad anyhow.) Around supper, I may add my rain jacket (aka windbreaker) and rain pants (which have side zippers for easy on and off.) Around 8pm I want my down vest until bedtime. So, at most I'll have two extra tops, longjohns, and vest riding in my pack. I also find that, at rest stops or lunch, the down vest is too warm, but the midweight wool top (and maybe the jacket) are just right.

However, in February, when daytime temperatures start at 10 and end at 20, I effectively don't bother with layers: I put the longjohns, top, and shorts on at the start of the trip, and they stay on until it's over. The down jacket and pants come out at lunch and in camp. (If I could convince myself I liked hiking in long pants, I wouldn't need the long john/shorts combo.) The rain gear only gets used in the rain or strong wind.

I wouldn't worry about whether I was layering properly - do what keeps you warm.

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#172784 - 12/07/12 10:25 PM Re: Is Layering the Answer? [Re: wandering_daisy]
jbylake Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 202
Loc: Northern KY USA
WD,
Seeing as you are from CA, I'd say it's a safe bet that you spend serious time in the SN's, no trees on top, and lot's of cold wind and snow that can happen in a moments notice. I'd always err on the safe side, and hump a few extra ounces for layering, than be shivering, or worse, and wishing you had them with you. But that's part of my personality anyway, I like taking risks, but calculated risks.

J.

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#172787 - 12/08/12 12:31 PM Re: Is Layering the Answer? [Re: jbylake]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2752
Loc: California
My question is related to the type of insulatioin, not the total amount. Are several light items, layered, better than one item of equal total warmth, the best approach? I would never short myself on total insullation. I would also never delete the outer weatherproof shell. I now take one 100-wt fleece, one med wt wool, and one 4-5 oz down sweater. I also have one beefy down jacket, that weighs less than all three ligher layers, and is just as warm. Also, it would be a lot easier just to put on side-zip insullated pants when I get to camp, rather than take off everything, and put on long johns. I have always used the "layering" system. I was just putting up a hypothetical question regarding if there could be a better way. BrianLe hit the nail on the head- standing around in rain, everything muddy and wet and trying to get pants off, shoes off, (and for me I wear gaiters - so off with them too), just to put on my long johns! And trying to do all this without getting something wet or muddy.

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#172792 - 12/08/12 02:00 PM Re: Is Layering the Answer? [Re: wandering_daisy]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Here are my layers (besides undies), from inside out:

Top:
Wear:
-Base layer top as hiking shirt (Patagucci Capilene 2 zip-T) 5.0 oz.
Carry:
-Patagucci Merino 1 crew neck (mid-layer when hiking in cold) 4.0 oz.
-Lightweight wind shirt 2.4 oz.
-Down jacket--Montbell Ex-Light 5.6 oz (for rest stops/in camp)
-Rain jacket, or hardshell if you prefer that term 4.5 oz.

Bottom:
Wear:
-Lightweight nylon pants 7.0 oz.
Carry:
-Capilene 2 base layer bottoms 5.1 oz. (in camp only)
-Rain pants/hardshell 3.1 oz.

Additional items for warmth: polypro fleece balaclava, Smartwool liner gloves, rain mitts, Goose Feet down booties (aaahh, cuddly warmth at night!) for sleeping. In cold weather, I take a Smartwool headband (while hiking to keep ears warm and in camp to supplement the balaclava) and an additional pair of lightweight fleece mittens.

Wearing all the above at once is sufficient to keep me cozy warm down to at least 15*F. If I know it's going to be colder, I can take a heavier base layer (Capilene 4) and a 100-weight fleece vest. If the cold spell happens unexpectedly, I will spend more camp time in my sleeping bag. If it's going to be quite warm and dry weather, I leave the mid-layer at home and take a fleece cap instead of the balaclava.

The layer that I wear the most is the wind shirt. It's great when I stop and it's just a little cool or breezy. I originally bought it to keep biting flies off during rest stops, and it's great for that, too. For hiking actively uphill, the wind shirt over my hiking shirt/base layer top works fine into the low 20's F. Going downhill, I need the mid-layer if it's in the 30's F or below. The wind shirt also blocks wind coming through the stitching on the down jacket, making the latter a lot warmer. If I don't take the mid-layer and the baselayer top I wear for hiking gets grubby, I can put the wind shirt over it for sleeping to keep the dirt from getting into my sleeping bag. The wind shirt is the one layer I would never leave at home! I use it around home a lot, too.

I've looked with some longing at Goose Feet down pants. I prefer using a baselayer, though, because if it's below freezing, I wear the rain jacket and pants (non-breathable) as a vapor barrier. For that, you want a lightweight base layer under the vapor barrier. Like Brian, I change into the baselayer bottoms after I get my tent set up (normally the first thing I do when I am ready to camp). The other problem, for me, is that my rain pants aren't big enough to get on over puffy pants without seriously compressing the insulation. While I'd rather not go into too much detail about my dimensions, I will admit that I have quite wide hips!

With our mild winters where I live, the above setup works out fine for me during winter hikes, too. That means I don't need a separate set of clothing in winter, a considerable savings. Of course if I lived in Wyoming, that would be a different story! I'd have a much warmer down jacket better suited for -20 to -30 F temperatures, for starters.

As is obvious, I like using layers to fine-tune my body temperature. If you don't feel the need of that, fine. I wouldn't ever leave my wind shirt home, though--I wear it more often than any other layer!

This again, is a YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary) sort of decision--experiment and see what works for you. It helps that I can experiment with such things while exercise-walking around home when we get those howling east winds out of the Columbia River Gorge every winter. The temp may be about 25-30*F, but the wind-chill factor is more like zero F.


Edited by OregonMouse (12/09/12 02:39 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#172808 - 12/09/12 01:34 AM Re: Is Layering the Answer? [Re: OregonMouse]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
I hope Jim weighs in on this. As I recall, Jim's philosophy is dress light for travel, then put on the heavy gear for camp. I kind of do the same thing. My camp clothes are overkill for the weather I am in, so I am not really layering as much as some other people, I just put on the big stuff and am done with it.
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#172816 - 12/09/12 01:54 PM Re: Is Layering the Answer? [Re: TomD]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Hi TomD Hi Daisy.
Daisy I am so glad that you brought this up because I have a reputation for slaughtering sacred cows. I basically do not use nor agree with the layering concept (OR DO I???). Like others here, I was exposed to such extremes when I started out that I have always tried to be prepared for the worst, and the best. grin

I believe in properly fitting highly breathable aerobic travel clothes and a couple of heavy in camp pullovers. Not to get into specifics of which gear -

In the winter I ski in long underwear with a fleece jacket on top and packlite shells over the jacket and long underwear bottoms. This allows me to vent or close up and regulate temperature easily while moving and none of it absorbs moisture. Upon arrival at camp I will remove the shells, pull on goretex down bibs that fit over everything else and a large down coat with a weather proof exterior so I do not need an extra shell (to put over the big coat) and so my ski shell can fit correctly.

If I am just day skiing, I will put my Montebell UL down jacket into my pack for extra warmth if I stop for a while and it can squeeze under the outer shell if need be, but the jackets exterior can handle snow and frozen precipitation.

I hate wearing 4 layers - 3 is kind of ok depending on whether or not you have to move a lot, but 2 is awesomely free and unencumbered feeling - like the longunderwear and down bibs with built in goretex shells on my legs - warm with complete freedom of movement.

THAT SAID - My longunderwear/fuzzy jacket and shells are very adjustable without removing them so I wonder if that is "layering". If it was really warm I'd take off the fleece jacket entirely, but normally I only buy jackets with matching pit zips for ventilation, so real venting with the rain shell on is possible.

So if the layers are a couple of thin ones and a thick one - then I layer, but a lot of thin layers is very heavy - the lightest insulation there is, is a down coat with a good exterior shell. My deep winter coat weighs 40 ounces, has a thick expedition style hood, a large flap over the zipper and its Guaranteed to keep me dry under extreme circumstances. The down bibs weigh about 32 ounces. This coat and bibs over longuderwear and a fleece jacket has kept me warm at -5 in a 50 mph wind. You need the ectra warmth of a fleece jacket around your torso and it is nice to sleep in, but a stuffed jacket is less binding to sleep in than fleece.

So what does "layering" mean? and does it mean different things to different people in different climates. If seems to be too general of a statement to be a sacred cow - you might as well say - take enough clothes.

I think the problem many may have is not having an adequately warm layer - something in another order of magnitude of warmth than their other "layers". Maybe instead of 5 medium layers a light, medium and heavy layer is better.
Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#172824 - 12/09/12 04:24 PM Re: Is Layering the Answer? [Re: Jimshaw]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Jim, yes, what you are doing is layering! You even said so!
Quote:
I ski in long underwear with a fleece jacket on top and packlite shells over the jacket and long underwear bottoms.

That's three layers right there. Just like me, you're adjusting your insulation to your activity level and the temperature. The big difference is that it's lot colder in the winter on your side of the Cascades! I actually was thinking more of 3-season high mountain hiking, especially in the Rockies (I was thinking the Wind Rivers and I'm pretty sure W_D was, too!). The difference is that I will strip or add layers as I go, mostly to avoid sweating if at all possible. Also, over here, we have to be prepared for rain, even at higher altitudes in mid-winter. That means the rain gear has to go over the down or synthetic puffy jacket unless, like yours, they have waterproof shells. Personally, I wouldn't want to carry the extra weight of the equivalent of two sets of hard shells, but that's one of those YMMV things.

An amazing number of folks will go out with just one heavy jacket and try to hike/ski/snowshoe in it, getting all sweaty (thus getting their insulation wet) and then chilling as soon as they stop whatever activity they are doing.


Edited by OregonMouse (12/09/12 04:30 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#172829 - 12/09/12 11:07 PM Re: Is Layering the Answer? [Re: OregonMouse]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2752
Loc: California
OM - I think cold/wet vs. cold/dry is the critical issue for winter clothing. Decades ago, when I did 2-3 week winter mountaineering NOLS courses in Wyoming, it rarely got above 0 F in the day and went down to -20 to -40F at night. It was, however exceedingly dry and always sunny. Our clothing system was a lot like Jim's. I would ski in a wool union suit with a "flight jacket" material outler jacket and pants. Flight jacket material was WWII surplus - very shiny satiny but tightly woven fairly thick nylon - material supposedly used in jackets for fighter pilots. I would ski all day with this, a wool hat (we sewed on a rip-stop nylon cover for the hat) and NO gloves! Working ski poles always kept my hands warm. We got into camp, stomped out a tent platform (lots of activity there) and then immediately put on our over-sized felt mucklucks, huge synthetic insulated pants (fit over boots) and jacket with tunnel hood and fur rim and often put on a balaclava too. We had big double mitts. A quick dinner and into the tent! Reverse in the morning- did not get out of all that stuff until the minute we were ready to move.
I definitely was cold in the morning until I had skied about fifteen minutes.

When it is 5% humidity and -10 degrees you really cannot work up much sweat. I never skiied in my big over jacket or pants. I think I did have one light weight wool sweater that I could add if it was too cold skiing in long johns and wind suit alone. The snow was not wet - was like broken styrofoam pellets. Honestly, I NEVER took off the long johns, day or night! I do not remember ever being wet either. Any moisture from our breathing immediately turned to frost.

At the other extreme is my recent coastal hiking. Temperatures only vary 5 degrees or less day or night and hover around 60-65 F. 100% humidity and often lots of rain. You simply cannot stay dry so I do not even try. I do not layer much. I hike nearly naked under my rain clothes, maybe a very lightest wool t-shirt and nylon gym shorts. Dry fleece long johns, wool long sleeve top, socks, hat, kept in waterproof bag. In camp, I take off wet stuff and just lay it in the tent vestibule. Put dry stuff on and jump into my sleeping bag. Come morning I wring out the wet hiking clothes and start walking. Cold at first but soon warm. I use my old worn out rain jackets and pants that really are no longer waterproof - they act more as a wind layer/wet suit.

I still do the traditional layering system in the mountains in the summer and am gradually transitioning to only 2 light layers and one heavier down jacket. I wear my rain jacket all the time in camp as extra insullating layer and often backpack in my gortex jacket in the early AM - probably one reason my rain jackets soon begin to leak.

I agree with Jim - it bugs me no end to be bundled up in more than 2 layers. When I buy new stuff I always forget to have larger sizes for the second layer. That is one reason I like my down vest - warm but I do not feel so constricted.

I sure would like to dump the rain jacket when I am in the Sierra. I am sick of hauling it around when it may rain so little. And when it rains I usually just hunker out in the tent because I hate to walk in rain. Storms are generally short.

I love my new Montbell down sweater - it goes everywhere with me. It is a luxury! I doubt it would make a life-saving difference, but it sure is cozy in the morning when I get up!





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#172830 - 12/09/12 11:18 PM Re: Is Layering the Answer? [Re: wandering_daisy]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2752
Loc: California
Here is an old photo of our winter clothes! Needless to say nothing ever fit me. NOLS made everthing huge. The ski boots were army surplus- smallest men's size 8 - my feet womans 6.5. I think we had on our insulating pants in this photo because we were on the top of a 13,000 foot peak! Normally we would not ski in those pants.
PS - I was 5 months pregnant in this photo. That also kept me warmer than normal! I ate everyone's food and gained 15 pounds in 3 weeks!


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#172834 - 12/10/12 01:24 AM Re: Is Layering the Answer? [Re: wandering_daisy]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I remember wearing stuff like that in Wyoming when I was growing up. Actually, we often skied in jeans (with long woolies underneath). The snow was dry enough that you could fall down a dozen times and not get wet. Try that out here in the Cascades and you'll be soaked, and probably hypothermic, in no time!

And you're right; unless we were getting a storm, it was generally nice and sunny. It even would be relatively warm in the sun and out of the wind!

Then there were the two winters I spent in northern Vermont. I thought Wyoming had bad winters, but Vermont was worse because it was also damp and mostly cloudy. I remember one day in very late February, the sun came out and for the first time in over threee months it actually got a couple of degrees above freezing. The icicles hanging off our roof were dripping and everyone and their kids were outside in shirt sleeves, it was so warm--relatively speaking.

Around here, winter is pretty cloudy, too, but at least it is mild!

_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#172835 - 12/10/12 01:24 AM Re: Is Layering the Answer? [Re: wandering_daisy]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
another great old photo of Daisy!!!! grin


I'm confused now by comments by Daisy and Mouse - what is layering and what isn't? I guess I am against many linear layers, and into a very thin liner and a very warm layer when needed. [I think this is the opposite of the layering concept] Since these are all layers, we should maybe try to define what we are talking about and what our terms will be. If layering means nothing or anything, then why do we tell people to do it since it is impossible not to?

So is layering the answer? to what? and what did the OP mean?

Frankly I think this is another stupid folk lore wisdom saying that won't go away.

Jim grin
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#172843 - 12/10/12 09:36 AM Re: Is Layering the Answer? [Re: wandering_daisy]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
W daisy, if you dump the rain jacket, which item(s) are you planning to use as (a) windbreaker?


It has been interesting to read through this thread. Definitely one of the topics I am hungery for more on. But, it does seem its all variation on a theme based on personal preference (and experience). Unless you are wearing a Kilt and a T-shirt with flip-flops, you are layering at least a little. But if I had to wear the classic "base" layer, insulating layer, and shell while snow-shoeing or hiking, I would usually be drenched within a half-hour (unless it is cold and dry). The only time in the Wind River Range it rained every day. I spent my days in a T-shirt and shorts. When it rained, I put on my rain jacket and gaiters (except once when I ended up with soaked boots!). It's still basically a layering system.

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#172864 - 12/10/12 01:20 PM Re: Is Layering the Answer? [Re: wandering_daisy]
Heather-ak Offline
member

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 597
Loc: Fairbanks, AK
I broke down and got an insulated skirt this year - so much easier to put that on and off than the insulated pants. I can unzip it from the bottom to get enough room to ski. I have not used it for backpacking, though I plan on taking it with if I do any overnight snowmobiling.

http://www.skhoop.us/

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#172867 - 12/10/12 02:46 PM Re: Is Layering the Answer? [Re: Heather-ak]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
Am reasonably certain we can talk Jim into trying this option. Naturally, pics will be demanded. eek

If the question is: "One thick, warm garment versus bunches of thinner garments when it's cold?" then I support the idea. Lots of layers tend to bind and bunch to the point they restrict movement. Think of Ralphie's little brother in "A Christmas Story." Mixed conditions call for a more flexible kit, which in my part of the globe means May-September.

IMHO the "best" insulating mid-layer--between, say, a long-sleeve mid-weight fleece shirt and a wind or rain jacket--is a smooth-shelled polyfill jacker or vest. It glides against the other layers and is less likely to bind. It also doesn't collect moisture yet, unlike fleece or pile, packs small. Down works too, but is a "safe" choice only where it's not relentlessly damp.

Originally Posted By Heather-ak
I broke down and got an insulated skirt this year - so much easier to put that on and off than the insulated pants. I can unzip it from the bottom to get enough room to ski. I have not used it for backpacking, though I plan on taking it with if I do any overnight snowmobiling.

http://www.skhoop.us/


Cheers,
_________________________
--Rick

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#172880 - 12/10/12 06:22 PM Re: Is Layering the Answer? [Re: Jimshaw]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1731
Loc: Napa, CA
We work things a little differently. I love to layer...but it all depends on the season. IN summer, I just want to have a couple of light layers, and once I start walking, I warm up. IF I really do get cold, I'll stop and get into a sleeping bag at night...

But that's summer in the Sierra. In winter, I've hiked stripped down to just a windshirt and pants in the snow...and didn't get cold. But the minute I stop, I start freezing, even if I am wearing every single dang layer I've got.

My wife hikes in full dress armor...and doesn't get warm. But when she stops, she doesn't get cold.

Go figure. We're all different!
_________________________
balzaccom

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

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#172885 - 12/10/12 07:34 PM Re: Is Layering the Answer? [Re: OregonMouse]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 848
Loc: Torrance, CA
Originally Posted By OregonMouse
....

An amazing number of folks will go out with just one heavy jacket and try to hike/ski/snowshoe in it, getting all sweaty (thus getting their insulation wet) and then chilling as soon as they stop whatever activity they are doing.


I think people are over-thinking this... OM said it best. You don't need x number of layers to be "layering". Layering simply means you have the flexibility in your system to meet the insulation requirements for your activity.

When people promote layering they are trying to combat the scenario OM laid out above... and that is a noble cause. "Layering" is not a set in stone system. You have to adjust it to your activity and your insulation requirements. If Daisy's layering system is not working for her, that means she needs to tweek her system. I guarantee you, whatever you (Daisy) come up with will be some form of layering. It sounds like you have too many layers and not a good way to switch between them.

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#172889 - 12/10/12 08:49 PM Re: Is Layering the Answer? [Re: BZH]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
BZH
the point is - if any comination of clothes is layering, then no matter what you wear, you are layering. So what is not layering if layering isn't the answer??? Like we wouldn't talk about our right hand if we didn't also have a left hand, it would just be The Hand. So why tell people its so important when we can't even seem to define it beyond "put on reasonable layers for the weather" and there the word is used in the definition.

As far as semantics go, to me "layering" means bringing too many thin heavy layers rather than clthing specific to the job at hand. And no I do not layer even though I wear layers - jeez.
Jim wink
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#172893 - 12/10/12 09:58 PM Re: Is Layering the Answer? [Re: Jimshaw]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2861
Loc: Portland, OR
to me "layering" means bringing too many thin heavy layers rather than clthing specific to the job

If that is going to be the definition, then i'm against it, too!!

For me, the definition of layering is much closer to what BZH said a couple of posts back. A good layering system is one that gives you flexibility to meet conditions as they change. If you can be certain that conditions will remain very stable and predictable, then you can know specifically what "the job" is that your clothing must do ahead of time and choose precisely what clothes will do that specific job. You put them on. You keep them on. You are happy. End of story.

But knowing just what to expect is a luxury and a lot of times the weather changes, temperatures change, your activity level changes and your clothing needs change accordingly. A few well-chosen layers allow you to regulate your temperature by making a few simple alterations depending on what is happening at the time. That might mean just putting on a hat or taking it off, opening a zipper to ventilate, or putting a wind shirt on or off. Or, it may mean putting on a down parka, balaclava, thermal pants and better gloves when you stop skiing and start sitting around cooking.

The whole idea is to get a nicely meshed and integrated system that's as verstaile, light and simple as you can make it, and that you are comfortable with using. That takes some experimenting.

By now, I'm sure Jim has his ideas honed down to a fine edge, knows exactly what to take on which trip, and it works like a treat for him. And it involves putting on or taking off certain items at certain times. If he doesn't want to call that "layering", that's his perogative; the jargon is irrelevant. What matters is what works.

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#172906 - 12/11/12 08:42 AM Re: Is Layering the Answer? [Re: aimless]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
So layering is like; You say potato, I say potatoe. You say tomato, I say tomatoe? I need to give Dan Quail a call.

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#172910 - 12/11/12 10:46 AM Re: Is Layering the Answer? [Re: skcreidc]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1381
Loc: Southwest Ohio
"I need to give Dan Quayle a call."

No you don't. We can mislead, misinform, and otherwise confuse things just fine all by ourselves! smile

I tend to agree with the general consensus - most of the discussions of "layering" I read refer to using several thinner layers with the goal of adding and subtracting as needed to regulate temperature. I think, back before we had the technical garments we have now, and were using some cotton in the mix, it was probably both necessary and important to be adding and subtracting layers to avoid sweating (and wetting out your cotton and wool, both of which took forever to dry around here.)

However, with the advent of all the miracle wicking fabrics we have today, the problem became simpler. The newer synthetics and merino wool (and wool blends) seem, to me at least, to be effective at regulating temperature over a wider temperature range: a midweight half-zip turtleneck merino wool top now covers the whole range that I used two light wool sweaters (one with and one without a turtleneck, neither zippered) to deal with before. So, we're not needing as many spare pieces, nor are we adding and removing as often as we used to. (At least, that's been my experience.) Different tools, same end result.


Edited by Glenn Roberts (12/11/12 10:50 AM)

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#172913 - 12/11/12 12:26 PM Re: Is Layering the Answer? [Re: Glenn Roberts]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Quote:
However, with the advent of all the miracle wicking fabrics we have today, the problem became simpler. The newer synthetics and merino wool (and wool blends) seem, to me at least, to be effective at regulating temperature over a wider temperature range: a midweight half-zip turtleneck merino wool top now covers the whole range that I used two light wool sweaters (one with and one without a turtleneck, neither zippered) to deal with before. So, we're not needing as many spare pieces, nor are we adding and removing as often as we used to. (At least, that's been my experience.) Different tools, same end result.


THAT, I can agree with wholeheartedly. I find with using the different weight merino wool T's, I can easily tailor what I'm wearing while hiking for the duration of my hike and be fine. It's been a long time since I've started the day's hike in long under shirt, a light wool sweater, and a windbreaker slathered in water proofing.

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